IN THE STUDIO
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% MICHAEL OMARTIAN
The hit-making keyboardist/producer behind Peter Cetera, Donna Summer, and Rod
Stewart steps out from behind the console with a powerful solo album. Controversial,
opinionated, and respected by his colleagues, Omartian speaks out on drum machine overkill,
the gap between technology and musical know-how, and the limitations of Christian music.
PROFILE: MICHAEL STEARNS
Giant-screen synthesis and high-tech hiking.
PROFILE: RUSSELL SHERMAN
Golf meets archeology on the classical keyboard.
<JA OINGO BOINGO
JU Not a cult, not a mantra, Oingo Boingo is a longtime underground outfit that is finally
winning an above-ground following. Bandleader Danny Elfman discusses the group's intricate
sample library, explains why they work without a full-time keyboardist, and outlines his
approach to solo film scoring.
YAMAHA DX7II: A USER’S GUIDE
Undocumented features, unexplained procedures, and other secrets your mother
never told you about one of the hottest new keyboards on the scene.
r O BRIAN BANKS & ANTHONY MARINELLI
DO One of the top session teams in Los Angeles discusses how to make it in the film music
game. All you need is talent, dedication . . . and it doesn't hurt to have a couple of Synclaviers.
r r SOUNDPAGE: ‘LEAP FROG’
OO A giant green beast attacks Bugburg in Pinocchio & The Emperor Of The Night as an
orchestra thunders its accompaniment. The frog isn't real, and neither is the orchestra.
■TO ADAM MAKOWICZ ON THE BLUES
/ O In words and music, a Polish emigre piano giant shows how to explore jazz piano from
the roots up.
OO TAXES & YOUR HOME STUDIO
Don’t wait until the zero hour next April. With these guidelines, you can plot your tax
strategy and find the write-offs you need for your home studio now.
'i'tA KEYBOARD READERS’ POLL
I I Your chance to pick the best keyboard players of 1987.
World View — Page 22
Soundpage — Page 66
PRIVATE LESSONS TECHNOLOGY
110 Jazz Piano
Bill Evans voicings.
112 Technical Exercises
120 Contemporary Piano
Between the wars.
124 Freelance Piano
Lounge Of Fame,
125 Applied Theory
126 Rock Keyboards
Scoring for TV.
DX7, CZ-101, &
C & Pascal
132 Digital Sampling
135 Piano Technician
136 Casio FZ-1
144 Roland D-50
148 Korg DDD-5
12 Guest Editorial
17 Reader Tips
22 World View
26 In Review
152 Spec Sheet
156 Classified Ads
162 Advertiser Index
Cover photo by Ann Summa: for equipment identification, see page 91.
SEPTEMBER 1987/KEYBOARD 5
) L L Y W 0 0 D
AKINC FILM MUSIC ISACRAZY
way to earn a living, but some peo-
ple have it crazier than others. How
many film composers are asked to
produce techno-pop for Giorgio
Moroder one day, create an ersatz orches-
tra for Steven Spielberg the next, and then
mix the sound of mosquitos into Buffy
Sainte-Marie’s voice to make a string
sound? Meet Brian Banks and Anthony
Marinelli, a.k.a. Sonar Productions. In their
lOyears as partners. Banks and Marinelli
havegonefrom being school palstofilm
industry staples. Lately, working on such
big-budget extravaganzas as Cat People,
58 KEYBOARD/SEPTEMBER 1987
Clan Of The Cave Bear, and The Color
Purp/eisall in a day’s work at Sonar's Holly-
The two synthesist/composers met
nearly 20 years ago as piano students
under the same teacher. Independently,
both graduated to ARP 2600 synthesizers
in the mid-’70s, and eventually found
themselves once again studying under the
same teacher, studio synthesist Clark
Spangler. In 1977, they joined forces to
perform synthesized arrangements of clas-
sical music for live radio broadcasts from
the Museum of Natural History in Los
Angeles. During that period, the duo led
six Yamaha CS-80s through such master-
pieces as Beethoven's Eighth Symphony,
Bach organ works, and Scott Joplin rags.
After pooling their resources to buy an
eight-track tape recorder and setting it up
in Marinelli’s parents' garage, the team
started getting calls for commercial work.
This led to their exposure to, and acquisi-
tion of, a New England Digital Syndavier —
and things just haven’t been the same
The Syndavier proved to be the calling
card they needed to kick their careers into
high gear. "FM was a major thing,’’ Mari-
nelli recalls. "That’s what the system had to
offer, and that’s why we got into it. There
was no terminal and no sampling, and the
DX7 was still a good two years in the future.
The Syndavier, coupled with our demo
tape, which consisted of classical pieces,
got us Blue Thunder over the name syn-
thesistsof the time. Wecould combine
scoring, arranging, and making a big
sound using FM to get new sounds. When
we got Blue Thunder, everything took
Afterthree monthsof work, they had
transformed Arthur B. Rubinstein’s musi-
cal sketch into one of the first scores
realized on a digital synthesizer — and this
time the orchestra was used to sweeten the
synthesizers, rather than the other way
around. The word spread quickly, and
composers began turning to Banks and
Marinelli as arrangers, orchestrators, and
synthesistsall rolled into one. Rubinstein
called them back for War Games and The
Best Of Times, Larry Rosenthal hired them
for Heart Like A Wheel, and Jack Nitzsche
used the duo for Starman, Stripper, and
Stand By Me. Then came Quincy Jones’
score for The Color Purple and — well,
their film bio alone is four pages longl And
then there are the record credits, which
include an obscure album called Thriller
by a guy named Michael Jackson.
Through it all, the two synthesists
worked out of a garage. Two years ago,
however. Sonar moved to a custom-
designed studio in the heart of Hollywood.
Banks says, "People would come to the
garage and say, ‘Gee, those kids are great.’
Now they call us 'guys’!” The 'guys’ have a
24-track room decked out with a video
system and every imaginable piece of
audio equipment, including two Syn-
clavier systems. The off-line system has 32
FM voices, SMPTE, a touch-sensitive key-
board, a 20-Meg Winchester hard disk,
and a Kennedy tape drive. Along with 32
FM voices, the on-line unit sports 16 voices
of sampling, eight megabytes of sampling
memory, and eight individual outputs.
Sonar’s battery of support synths includes
a Roland Super Jupiter, an Oberheim
Xpander, a Prophet-5 with MIDI, a DX7,
four ARP 2600s driven by MIDI-to-control-
voltage converters, and more. Of course,
there’s also a Yamaha C7B grand, for those
times when a sampled piano just won’t do.
Marinelli: Each sample, except for the
hard down-bows, is between two and six
seconds long. Manufacturers brag about
17 seconds worth of sampling — we fill
eight Meg of RAM with one instrument.
At 50K, sampling with 16-bit words, you
get roughly 10 seconds per megabyte, so
eight Meg is 80 seconds. That’s how much
we’re using for one instrument. That’s how
you get great sounds.
Banks: Because of our training and
background, we spend a lot of time trying
to make a great-sounding orchestra.
We’ve made it our business to get a lot of
great orchestral samples. It's getting
harder and harder as the players get hip to
the fact that we can do a good job of imitat-
Marineili: Four years ago, they wanted
to look at the [sampled] waveform [on the
Synclavier screen] — they loved it. Now
you can't get the good players. We were
always straight about it. We told them w.hat
Banks (L) and Marinelli with New England
Digital Synclavier; original Garfield Dr. Click
rests below Synclavier terminal.
we were doing, and what it was going to be
used for, and we tried to get people who
were into it. If the players aren't into it,
you’re going to get rotten samples anyway.
Part of our philosophy is to limit what we
want to get in a night, because they'll blow
themselves out and they won’t get good
tone on that many articulations in a night.
We try to get three dynamic levels on
everything. We go up in minor thirds, and
then we try to get some articulations that
we can stack vertically and bring in using
velocity, pressure, pedals, breath control,
and the control knob.
Banks: The sampling process is very
laborious. You can assume that there are
going to be takes that sound bad to your
ear. Well, in order to guarantee that you’ve
got one good take when you go to edit the
One of Sonar’s most recent projects is
Sylvester Stallone’s Over The Top, with
music by Giorgio Moroder, who originally
called Banks and Marinelli for Cat People.
"He had just bought a Synclavier," Banks
remembers, "and, like many Synclavier
owners, he thought it was great, but didn't
have any way of getting into it. So we pro-
grammed it.” Keyboard caught up with
Banks and Marinelli at their studio, where
they were taking a breather between ses-
sions for the Stallone film and two new
projects, Nice Girls Don’t Explode and
Pinocchio And The Emperor Of The Night.
D O YOU RELY ON THE SYNCLAVIER
for most of your work?
Banks: As much as we may not like to
tie our success to a hunk of hardware,
having a Synclavier early on was really our
calling card. There wasn’t any competi-
tion. DX7s were still a long way off, and
even with 32 DX7algorithms, there isn’t
one that sounds like a couple of the setups
that are on the Synclavier. We have a DX7
here, and it does some FM synthesis that
the Synclavier doesn't, but they're differ-
ent. Also, Anthony got very involved with
consulting for the development of the
Synclavier. A lot of things that are on the
instrument are our fault! It’s a nice feeling
to be involved in the development of a
Why do you need two Syndaviers?
Marinelli: There are two of us! Actu-
ally, one Synclavier lives in the recording
studio and is used almost exclusively for
performance, and the other is in the B
room. We use that one for composing and
making our own sounds. We're trying to
write musicthat’s both idiomaticto the
instrument and married to video. Staying
locked to picture all the time is really excit-
ing. You can get such continuity. You can
keep seeing the picture and reworking
something, kind of like getting an orches-
tral performance the way Ravel might
You have floppy disk drives, Win-
chester hard disks, and Kennedy tape
drives. Why so many different storage
Banks: Costand convenience. Floppy
disks are convenient, but they’re more
expensive per megabyte than Kennedy
tapes, and the Kennedy is faster to retrieve
from. We have a couple of hundred 15-
Meg tape cartridges filled up. To keep that
many floppy disks around is very time-
consuming. Also, somebody has to sit
there and feed them to the Synclavier. Just
for a violin sound, we’re into over 30
floppy disks. You’re talking about a sample
50K long at 16-bit for every minor third
across the range [of the keyboard]. We've
got 13 or 14 [samples laid out] horizontally
and up to three [layered] vertically. So you
can have up to 45 16-bit 50K samples, and
call that a violin.
BANKS & MARINELLI
samples, you’d better have two takes that
you thought were good when they went
down. There’s no time, while a musician is
sitting there, to listen to them all. You just
keep rolling, and make sure that you have
two that you think are good. One of them
is bound to be good, and if we’re lucky
enough to get two that are good, that’s
great, because now we have a double.
What do you use the double for f
Banks: For an a due part [a unison part
played by two of the same instrument].
Doubling the same sample doesn’t work. If
you double samples, you get awful, ugly,
terrible phasing. And if you delay the
waveform or pitch-change it, all you do is
make an ugly phase-shifter out of it. You
don’t get the sound of two instruments.
You need two whole different samples.
Psychologically and, sometimes, musically,
it’s nice if they’re from different players,
but at least they must be different samples.
Marinelli: We hand-play all the parts,
because if you're playing the bottom guy
and the top guy has the melody, you
would do different things with vibrato and
dynamics. We put in pedal information
and all kinds of stuff to give us separate
Banks: Often, we’ll play a whole bunch
of lines into the Synclavier — we have a
200-track recorder here. Then I can roll all
these takes in nonjustified time or in justi-
fied time. I’ll play both flute parts, or the
first and second violins, into the sequenc-
er, but with three passes of each. Then I'll
spread them out in stereo to put them on
Marinelli: A lot of times the perform-
ancesaredone in thecomposing room,
because, as you’re composing, if you learn
to think clearly and take a little extra time,
you can get your performances done.
Do you find yourselves creating non-
acoustic sounds on the Synclavier ?
Banks: One of the more interesting
things we did was for The Color Purple.
There’s a scene where Celie, the main
female character. Is in her house, which is a
dilapidated place with a leaky roof. It’s
pouring rain, and she’s got little tin cans
and pails all over the living room. Her sister
has been in Africa and sends her letters.
Hearing the plink-plink-plink of the rain in
the tin cans reminds Celie of the kalimba
[African thumb-piano] music her sister has
been telling her about. So we were asked
to come up with a sequence that would go
from raindrops to kalimba. They gave us a
piece of kalimba music to segue into.
Marinelli: We also did some of the
voices i n Pinocchio And The Emperor Of
The Night. We did James Earl Jones.
Banks: He’s the villain, the Emperor Of
What did you do to him?
Banks: Processed the hell out of him.
Marinelli: The amplitude of his voice
gates a sound that’s constantly changing, a
whole 24 tracks’ worth of sounds. The
24-track just runs, ticking off these sounds.
Each track has up to 10 different sounds
laid on it— espresso machines blasting air
into Sparklets bottles, mosquitos multi-
tracked and taken down five octaves, low
voices moaning, all kinds of windy, low
rumblings. They all gate in along with
backwards reverb when he talks. It’s a
Banks: And all starting with his voice,
which is one of the greatest instruments
Marinelli: For Starman, the string
sounds came from one mosquito in a jar.
We multi-tracked it loads of times, all out
of phase — it was just five minutes of mos-
quito, so we’d record a bit of it, pick up at
another point later on and dub it over the
front part, and so on until there were 36
tracks of it. It was like 36 string players. A lot
of the string sounds were mosquito mixed
with Buffy Sainte-Marie’s voice.
Banks: We wanted some good drum
sounds for Fast Forward, so we went to a
high school gymnasium, with all the horri-
ble echo, and bounced balls on the floor.
They made great kick drums. Unfortu-
nately, there was an air conditioner going.
So I looked at the recording on the Syn-
clavier’sSFM screen [Signal File Manager,
one of the Synclavier's sampling software
packages] and saw that there was a spike
around 18K. Nobody would have heard
that in the gymnasium, but when you iso-
late a sound and then play it in a lower
range, even a perfect fifth lower, it's right
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BANKS & MARINELLI
there in your ear. So [using the software] I
built a digital filter that removed a band
between 17, 950Hz to 18,050Hz. It worked
just like a razor blade, removing just that
frequency and leaving the rest of the sample
How much do you use the sequencing
aspect of the Synclavier?
Banks: Extensively. We live and die
inside of that sequencer. When we're
doing an orchestral simulation, we play
everything by hand into the sequencer.
We use the sequencer because we can do
editing in there that we could never do on
Marinelli: Directors are always making
changes at the last minute. We can just
stick the floppy in, move some stuff
around, and be done with it.
You compose while you watch the pic-
ture, with the Synclavier locked to SMPTE ?
Banks: The Synclavier locks to picture
with its own SMPTE interface. It’ll track as
slowly as one frame per second — you
won’t get any of those joyboxes to do that.
Marinelli: You hear your music at
pitch, but it’s slow.
Banks: You can tap a click track into the
Synclavier. It's not just a sound reference
for you to play against, but the justifying
click track, so that if you want to do a justi-
fied [quantized] sequencer line against it,
or if you’re looking at it for beat reference
on the screen, it’s your actual click track.
Or you can type in the click: I want 87
clicks at this tempo, and then accelerando
in the next 12 beats logarithmically to this
new tempo, hang there for 1 2 beats, and
then ritard down linearly in three beats to a
Marinelli: The only movie we didn’t
use the sequencer for was The Color Pur-
ple, because we weren’t doing the final
score, except for that one cue with the
raindrops. We did what we call Polaroids —
we did the whole score, before it was
recorded by orchestra. There were 18
composers, each with one or two or three
cues. Quincy [Jones] had the themes on
lead sheets which would go to the com-
poser who was to work on a particular cue.
The composer would write a six-line
sketch, the sketch would come to us, and
we'd fill it out for orchestra. We were just
ripping through those cues. It was all
hand-played directly to tape, with just two
guys — one of us and our engineer, Mark
Curry — recording up to six minutes of
finished music a day. We did over 100
minutes of score like that. Those record-
ings went to Spielberg, he would look at
them against picture, make changes, and
send them back to the composer, who
would send them back to us for a final
version. Then we’d send them back to
Spielberg, he was dealing with the real
score as a temp score [temporary score, an
already-recorded, often well-known,
piece of music used until the actual score is
ready]. We had to work fast, so it wasn’t
our best orchestra. Six minutes a day was
Banks: Making orchestral Polaroids is a
side business of ours. It's music insurance
for directors and producers. A union
orchestra is going to cost between $12,000
and $19,000 for a three-hour session. If
there are mistakes or changes to be made
in the score, they have to call the orchestra
back for a three-hour minimum call. They
can hire us for three weeks for less money
than it would cost them to hire a 90-piece
orchestra for a six-hour day. Very often in
an orchestral score there are two or three
cues that might be questionable; the
director is really worried about the big
love sceneorthebig chase. For $2,000 to
$5,000, they can have a very representative
orchestral demo and know whether or not
the cues are happening.
How do you work together ? What
roles do you each play f
Banks: All of the above. Generally, we
both write, play, do business, talk on the
phone. But we each haveourstrengths
Marinelli: Westarted out trying to do
everything together, but there was more
and more demand. Dividing up the tasks
enabled the quality to get exponentially
better as we increased our output.
Banks: Typically, we work together
most when we’re developing themes for a
project, much more so than in the day-to-
day work once the project gets started.
The major conceptual stuff we really col-
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62 KEYBOARD/SEPTEMBER 1987
BANKS & MARINELLI
laborate on. For instance, for Nice Cirls
Don’t Explode, Anthony is doing the lion’s
share of the writing, while I’m doing the
lion's share of production. It’s faster that
way because he’s into the movie. He
knows the characters and what’s going to
happen. I know what his floppy disk is
going to look like when it gets to me.
Is it possible for you to collaborate that
way if you're not working in your own
Banks: One of the biggest reasons we
put the studio together was the amount of
software and hardware that had to be
comfortably in place for us to be efficient.
If we’re going to have record producers,
other composers, and advertising agents in
here, we don’t want them to feel like
they’re intruding on someone’s backyard.
Marinelli: We were sidemen, too, and
it was a drag to move all our stuff in and
deal with a new engineer.
Banks: Giorgio Moroder has one of the
finest studios in Los Angeles. When we did
Over The Top, he gave us two days just to
set up. We spent the better part of two
days with [engineer] Brian Reeves setting
up and getting the kinks out. The Syn-
clavier lives in its own air-conditioned
closet at our place. Giorgio didn’t have
that. We had to get special cables made,
special MIDI cables with 50-foot runs, to
put the Synclavier in its own private space.
Marinelli: We wanted to stay out of the
studio business, but we ended up studio
owners. We had to. Wecouldn’tdoour
work running around on dates.
Banks: Doing sessions was dissatisfying
for uson another level, too — the creative
level. If you’re in there and there are 60
other guys sitting there waiting for you to
finish, you don’t get to take time to get a
sound the way you want it. So you call up
presets. The technology allows for a lot of
presets these days, but when you use
them, you’re not creating anything new.
Marinelli: When you're in yourown
room, you can do five things at once. You
can load a sample in, pick up the phone,
and practice the part you’re going to play.
It’s really an efficient way to spend your
day, and it’s more fun. When you go on a
date, it’s "hurry up and wait.” That’s going
to change, I think. Even the Record Plant
[recording studio] built a synthesizer
How much of the work you’ve been
doing lately involves composing original
Banks: Right now, all of it.
Marinelli: Pinocchio And The Emperor
Of The Night is 85 minutes of orchestra
that we’re scoring now, and Nice Cirls
Don't Explode is 20 minutes, so we've got
100 minutes of orchestra to write in less
than three months. Plus, we’ve got our
clients: all the Suzuki Samurai commer-
cials, KNBC News every week and — who
knows? We might be getting into records
Could you tell us about the Pinocchio
Banks: It's absolutely wall-to-wall
music. Occasionally, we've been allowed
to take a breath, maybe for one sentence.
Marinelli: This is our best orchestra
[simulation] to date. For the strings, it has
five or six articulations — tremolos, off-of-
the-string bowing, arcos, pizzicato, differ-
ent dynamic levels — and it's all triple-
tracked. If you were to take a sampled
string sound and play a fast run, the attacks
would sound mechanical. The way to
avoid that is to use velocity to control
volume, decay time, and attack time, so
that your attack times are slightly different
on each note. If you play it by hand and
multi-track it, overlapping different string
samples, you can eliminate that problem.
Banks: You can’t get legato strings with
fewer than three tracks. If we had a Mitsu-
bishi 32-track [digital tape recorder] or
tons and tons of RAM [in the Synclavier],
I’d probably do it five or six times. The
question that always comes up is, "If you
have three 16-violin samples, aren’t you
making the most gargantuan string sample
in the world?” The answer is no, because
when you play from one note to another
with a 16-violin sample, you still get only
one gate per note. Part of the mass that you
Continued on page 69
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64 KEYBOARD/SEPTEMBER 1997
lNKS & MARINELLI
tinued from page 64
when a string section moves is that all
; notes change at different moments,
t only are there 16 slightly different
:hes, but the start times and the dura-
is aren’t all the same. In a real orchestra,
j've got 16 violinists doing it, so three
mpled tracks] is not a whole lot. But by
■ time you add a little reverb and a little
>L [digital delay line], it seems to work
Marinelli: We also have our down-
v s on velocity, so if you hit the key real
d, you’ve got a couple of different
ng sounds striking at once. We cheat
t way. Also, the down-bows mixed with
0 give you more articulation. For every
trument, you’ve got to have a lot of
Do the various synthesizers in your
ip play specific musical roles f
Banks: It’s all in the variety. The reason
1 don't see a [Yamaha] TX816 here is that
'ould give us eight guys that sound the
ie. If I want five clarinets, I don’t want
s variations of a DX clarinet. I want a DX
rinet, a Roland clarinet, an Oberheim
rinet, a Synclavier clarinet, and a
luential clarinet, because then I have
! inherently different clarinets. A lot of
i record stuff, quick orchestra stuff, and
ck synthesizer TV stuff has a very shal-
t sound because it's all one thing.
There's enough of that kind of writing
around. It’s fast and easy to do with syn-
thesizers. There are a lot of people who are
using synthesizers as a convenience. Now
they can have all these sounds in their
bedroom. For us, the synthesizer is our
instrument. We started studying young,
and we play all different kinds of music
with it. I don’t ever expect to be satisfied.
Marinelli: We always argue, “Who’s
ahead, the manufacturers or the players?"
I say the manufacturers are ahead, because
we still aren't writing music for the instru-
ment [idiomatically,] the way Chopin
wrote for piano.
Banks: But the artist is always pulling
the technology. Artists aren’t writing music
that Anthony might call idiomatic to the
instrument because the artist hears some-
thingelse,and often hastofightwith the
instrument to get it. And then he’ll have to
settle for something in between. Drum
machines like to go in loops, so you hear a
lot of music that is segmented to a fault.
Synthesizers have always been considered
do-everything machines, but they’ve
never lived up to it. Even old Moog syn-
thesizers were supposed to be able to
create any sound, and all you have to do is
sit with one for a while and you'll know
that that couldn’t be further from the
truth. The composer says, "Okay, now do
this!’’ The machine says, "No.” So the
composer says, "Well, what will you do?"
And it answers, "With this software update
and that hardware, I'll do this.” So the
composer says, "All right. I'll write this, but
I really wish I could write that.”
Marinelli: What is a synthesizer for? Is it
an instrument, or is it the do-everything
box? New England Digital is saying the
Synclavier is a recording studio in a box,
but it's not really.
Banks: It's really a new kind of tape
recorder, musical instrument, and signal
processor all rolled into one. It’s not really
a recording studio in a box — yet — because
it doesn’t employ EQ, an array of faders for
mixing, or a room to put a musician in.
Marinelli: We don’t have the sample-
to-disk option yet, but we will by August,
and when we do, we’ll use the 24-track for
no more than reverb returns. We'll have as
many as 12 great stereo reverb sounds, and
let the Synclavier play back the whole
thing, all digitally, and master to CD,
number to number — if it works. If the
multi-track is doing no more than playing
back reverb, the noise floor will drop by a
tremendous amount, because reverb
doesn’t have to be very loud in the mix.
Banks: We're going to be getting eight
Winchester drives worth of what NED calls
direct-to-disk. They’ll sample at up to
100K — no other digital recorder is even in
that league — and you can get up to 26
minutes per drive. They're run by the Syn-
clavier sequencer. Any number of those
disks can be recording at any one time.
Now, if you have a number of vocal takes
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BANKS & MARINELLI
for a pop tune, you can take one phrase
from take 17 and stick it on take 1, and the
computer will very gently cross-fade from
one to the other and back. It puts a Band-
Aid over the joint between the two, but it’s
completely nondestructive, so if you don’t
like the way it sounds, you can go back.
Marinelli: The next software will be a
CD algorithm that figures out the numbers
so that you don’t have to go back to the
analog domain to make a CD. Who knows
what that’ll sound like?
Banks: We're also getting their optical
disk storage system, which records to 12-
inch laser disks — two-gigabyte random-
access disks. Our sample library will go on
that. The cataloguing structure is so sophis-
ticated that the catalog on your Win-
chester tells you, if you have more than
one laser disk, which disk the sound you
want is on. They’re setting the whole thing
up as a database management system. A
laser disk will hold 10,000 entries, and
there’s no way you could ever flip through
that many entries. So you ask it, "Tell me
what I've got in terms of pizz violins," and
it’ll tell you.
Marinelli: That’s the dream-come-
true. For what we do, the library work is a
real pain in the neck. If it’s all in one spot.
I’ll be in heaven.
Banks: TheSynclavierisan interesting
instrument. The world knows it’s a very
expensive animal. We have always ap-
proached the Synclavier on two levels.
First of all, it's the greatest musical synthe-
sizer we’ve ever dealt with. But also, for
that kind of money, you have to ask your-
self, "Is this a good business venture?”
Until now, the sample-to-disk option
wasn’t cost-effective, even though it’s the
funnest thing in the world. There is
nothing more wonderful than working on
a tune with 16 tracks of live stuff and 200
tracks of samples, and you say, “Okay, let’s
go to bar 12,” and boom— you’re right
therel But remember, there’s music, and
there’s the music business. You have to
pay attention to the music business. Oth-
erwise, you can’t have a Synclavier.
Speaking of business, we understand
that the American Federation of Musicians
in Los Angeles recently accepted your
proposal for a revision of the Union's wage
scale for synthesists. What was your pro-
posal, and why did you make it?
Banks: Usually, when you’re doing a
film score, every player is paid for a three-
hour minimum, and they're also paid per
overdub. The theory is that if you play one
line, go back to the head of the tape, and
play another line that goes over it, in the
old days you'd have been two people. So
eversince multi-tracking became stan-
dard, anyone doing an overdub has been
paid twice, as though there were two peo-
ple. Now, if you start at the beginning of a
cue playing your DX7, and then at bar 17
you play your [Oberheim] Xpander,and
then you play your [Sequential] Prophet-5,
70 KEYBOARD/SEPTEMBER 1987
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BANKS & MARINELLI
those are called doubles, rather than over-
dubs. That started with the woodwind
doubler, who plays a variety of instruments
during a cue. Doubles are paid as addi-
tional fractions of scale. With all the new
synthesizers, computers, and sequencers,
the number of tracks a synthesist has
recorded for a cue no longer bears any
relationship to the work that is done. Also,
when you're a synthesist, you play ar-
ranger, orchestrator, engineer — every-
thing. We came up with a proposal that
synthesists should be paid by the hour at
an inflated rate, with an unlimited amount
of overdubs, doubles or anything else
they're called upon to do. We needed a
more standardized way of doing things, so
that we can all make money. Producers
won’t be afraid of us, because they’ll know
from the beginning how much it’s going to
cost. The scale that ended up being ac-
cepted was $200 an hour for one synthesist
and $175 an hour for two or more synthe-
sists. Scale for 25 or fewer orchestral play-
ers is $199.16 per player for three hours, so
it’s roughly triple scale.
Marinelli: We’ve seen the tables turn.
We’ve been together for 10 years, and in
the beginning the Union didn’t want any
part of us. Using a synthesizer for a bass
part was unheard-of. After a few years, we
began to be treated like musicians. Then it
got to the point where we were con-
sidered sidemen, but after a while we were
doing biggerthings than that — arranging,
making sure the whole score got recorded
properly. Now we can package the whole
thing and deliver the finished product to
the movie studio, and all they have to do is
Is this going to satisfy the acoustic play-
ers who are losing work to synthesists 1
Marinelli: Whenever a new technol-
ogy comes along, people get burned, and
I'll do anything I can to help. It’s like Social
Security: You help the people who set it
up for you. Well, those people set it up for
us, and we owe it to them not to leave
them out in the cold. But the realistic end
of it is that it’s going to be cooler than it has
been in the past. Musicians have to stick
together, though. There aren’t very many
people who really care about musicians in
the business of film and recording.
Banks: To a greater or lesser degree,
this stuff is inevitable, because film is a
high-tech industry. Look at what they're
doing in theaters, with six-track audio,all
these computerized visual effects, and
everything locked to SMPTE or VITC [Ver-
tical Interval Time Code]. To have a com-
puter-locked music system makes sense to
people who are producing films because it
fits right into what they’re doing. If they
can find composers who can make effec-
tive music with these systems — with what-
ever sounds they’re capable of produc-
ing— it's bound to be less expensive, because
it's tied more closely into the process of
making the film. On one level you can say,
"Why do I need 80 people, 30 micro-
72 KEYBOARD/SEPTEMBER 1987
BANKS & MARINELLI
phones, six recordists, and a big sound-
stage when I can hire one or two people,
and they can satisfy the picture and make
great sounds?" And I’m not even talking
about orchestral simulation. I’m talking
about new sounds, whatever they may be.
Marinelli: But it should be the com-
poser’s decision. I don’t want to see us all
get squeezed out. The producer's dream is
to hire a programmer and say, "Give me a
score that sounds like this temp score."
They want to pay you as a programmer,
not as a composer. That's why we got
involved with all this Union stuff in the first
place. The Union hated us in the begin-
ning, and we weren’t exactly loving it. But
we realized that we had to form a coali-
tion, we had to find out who our real
enemies are — not our enemies, but the
people who don’t care about the music,
who only care about product. Now, I’m
really afraid of the people who go in and
say, "I’m a programmer. I'll work for a low
hourly rate,” $25 an hour or something,
and they end upcomposing,and people
don't care. Not everybody cares about
Banks: Film studios and record pro-
ducers want to hire people and call them
programmers. That gets them off the
Musicians Union contract and gets them in
real cheap, but what it does is drag down
the perceived value of the job to the
degree that it's just like cleaning the toilets.
When the perception of the value of the
job drops to that level, then the musician
has no leverage. There’s someone around
the corner saying, "Yeah, I'll knock that
out. I’ve got an [E-mu] Emulator,” or "I’ve
got a Synclavier.” Syndavier guys tend not
to be like that, because they've got so
much money invested in their equipment
that they have to make their money back.
Marinelli: Look at the claims made by
the ads in the magazines. The producers
read these things and believe them.
Banks: When we do what we do, we
really have to stand firm and say, "We’re
doing music here. We’re players if you hire
us as players. We're composers if you hire
us as composers. But we're never pro-
grammers. If you just want me to twist
knobs, that’s fine, but I’m still making
musical decisions, and you’re going to pay
me that way. You're going to respect the
fact that this is what I’m doing. That's why
I've gone to the expense of getting the
finest instrument that I can buy to do the
art work that I do."
Marinelli: That’s the only way to keep
up with this. If you want to have this kind
of equipment, you have to go through
these politics in order to do it. If you don’t,
your art suffers, because it’s a high-tech
art. It’s dependent on the instruments, and
they don’t get better with age. We're rid-
ing the wave. We’re still on the surfboard,
but it’s rough water. E
SOUND CELLS “ SAMPLES
1. Sound-Track" □
2 Ceilos/Violms □
3. "Air-Choir" □
6 Pop" Bass/Fuzz Guitard
7 Saxophone □
8 Grand Piano G
9 "Bottle Fiule' /Harmonica I □
10 Flute/High Strings C
11 "Oriental Sounds' □
12. Strings/Pizzicato Strings □
13 Male Vocal" □
14 "Rhythm Section" C
15 Electric Piano □
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17 Strings D
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24 12-Strmg Guitar G
25 Nylon String Guitar □
26. Orch Hils #1 □
27 Orch Hits #2 □
28 Orch Hits #3 □
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30 Misc. Samples #2G
32 Orchestra Brass □
33 Clavenet/Synth ClavCI
34 Electric Guitar n
35. Kalimba/ Vibra-Xylophone i
36 Rock Guitar Cl
37 Synth fit □
38 Synth #2 □
39 Synth #3 d
40 Banjo/Harmonica II G
41 English Horn/Bassoon □
42 Clarinet/Oboe FI
43 "Lonely Flule'VOcarina □
44 Shakuhachi □
45 ' Hybrid Brass" □
46 Wooden Flutes □
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48 Jazz Kit" □
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